Does Christ Rule the Nations Now?

John Piper: What I see in Scripture are at least three ways God rules over the nations — or we could say three stages in history in which God brings the nations into complete submission. God’s Everlasting Dominion First, there’s the absolute, all-embracing, all-pervasive rule of God’s providence over all nations at all times and in all places. Psalm 103:19: “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” That’s true now, and that’s true always. Psalms 47:2: “The Lord . . . is . . . a great king over all the earth.” Proverbs 8:15: “By me kings reign.” There’s no reign of any king anywhere at any time except by God’s decree. Daniel 4:17: “The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” And when God puts the kings in place, he governs what they do. Proverbs 21:1: “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand

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How Could Jonathan Edwards Own Slaves?

Wrestling with the History of a Hero John Piper: When I gave the inaugural biographical message of the Bethlehem Conference for Pastors in 1988 on the life of Jonathan Edwards, I had never heard that Edwards owned slaves,1 nor that he pushed back against those who opposed slaveownership while themselves benefiting from slavery.2 I had read Edwards diligently for twenty years — all of his major works and many sermons and smaller treatises and letters, plus at least three biographies — but had never noticed anything suggesting he owned a slave. I was surprised. Some have argued that his slaveholding is not surprising, but rather fits with his view of hierarchy in society — that is, that some people properly have more authoritative roles, while others have more servant roles. George Marsden says, in fact, that “we can consider Edwards’ attitudes toward slavery in the context of his hierarchical assumptions. Nothing separates the early eighteenth-century world from the twenty-first century more than this issue.”3 So in

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If We Read Our Bibles, Why Do We Need Sermons?

John Piper: Let me try to answer this question in two stages. First, I’ll try to show from the New Testament that it is God’s plan and design that, besides the infallible word of God in the Bible, the church is to be led, underneath that infallible word, by fallible elders — sometimes called pastors or overseers or teachers — who are gifted to lead and to teach the flock. And then second, we ask the question why: Why did God set it up that way, so that the ordinary members of the church, who have in their hand an infallible Bible, should listen to and respect and esteem and follow and rejoice in the ministry of the word through fallible preaching? Shepherds for the Flock So, step one: God’s plan. Just this week, I was preparing a Look at the Book session on 1 Thessalonians 5:12–14, and I was compelled to address this very question before I knew that this question would be

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Providence and the Counterintuitive Wonders of God

Sam Storms: It’s only one word, Providence, but it is indescribably rich and complex and challenging and comforting. It is also the title to John Piper’s most recent book (Crossway, 2020, 751pp.). Piper defines providence as God’s “purposeful sovereignty.” In other words, it is more than mere sovereignty. It is more than power or oversight. It is the way in which God directly and intentionally brings about his ultimate aim of glorifying himself. One of the things that you will read from John is his emphasis on what he calls “counterintuitive wonders” (14). These wonders of how God governs the world “are not illogical or contradictory, but they are different from our usual ways of seeing the world – so different that our first reaction is often to say, ‘That can’t be.’ But the ‘can’t’ is in our minds, not in reality” (14). Right from the start of this massive and important work, Piper encourages his readers to “let the word of

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How to Count It All as Loss

John Piper: What does it mean to count everything as loss for the sake of Christ? What does it mean to renounce all that we have for Christ’s sake? Paul said he does this. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). And a few verses later he said, “Brothers, join in imitating me” (Philippians 3:17). So this is commanded of all believers. Basic Christianity This is what it means to be a Christian. It is not advanced discipleship; it is basic Christianity. This is confirmed in Jesus’s words, “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). Renouncing all we have is the same as “counting everything as loss.” This is what happens in conversion. You can’t be a disciple without it. Jesus said this. He describes this conversion in a parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a

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How Does Easter Change Us?

John Piper: The effect of Christ’s resurrection on our present life as Christians is immeasurably great. I mean, none of us has exhausted the possibilities of what God may be willing to do in us and through us because of the power of the resurrection of Christ in us. And I say that because Paul said in Ephesians 3:20, “[God] is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” And he identified that power in chapter 1 this way: “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe . . . that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19–20). There’s the connection between Ephesians 3:20 and 1:19: the power that makes it possible for us to do far more abundantly than we even dream we could is the very power of God that he worked when he raised Christ from the dead. So, Allison’s

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Who Is God?

John Piper: When I turn from myself to Jesus and his teachings; and to the writings of his followers that he himself vouched for, guaranteed; and to the Jewish Scriptures that Jesus himself endorsed; and to the world of nature; and to the witness of my own conscience — when I turn from myself to these places where God has revealed himself — here’s what I see in answer to the question, Who is God? And I would appeal to everyone who’s listening not to take my word for it, but to search out those five sources as if your life depended on it, because it does. 1. God is spirit. Here’s the first thing I believe I see in those revelations from God of who he is. First, Jesus says that God is spirit. John 4:24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” In other words, he’s not physical. He’s not material. He

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The longing of the universe

What a World Ours Will Be Why the Universe Longs to Be New By John Piper At the second coming of Christ, the people of God will see the risen King in his power and great glory. They will be changed instantly into sinless persons who will be like their glorious King forever. In that likeness to Christ, their capacities for love — for delighting in what is truly great and beautiful and worthy — will be raised to unimagined heights as they share in the very love of the Father and the Son. And in that supreme, pure, perfected delight in God, the glory of God will shine. At this point, we might (mistakenly) conclude that the fullness of the purposes of providence has been reached. But to many people’s surprise, God does not intend for our sight of glory, or our likeness to glory, or our praises of glory, to be physically invisible or inaudible. So it would be a

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The Ethos of Christian Hedonism: Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing

John Piper: Defending Christian Hedonism exegetically is one thing; helping people feel the ethos of it is something else. The latter is harder. That’s what I want to try to do here. But first, what is it? Christian Hedonism is a way of life rooted in the conviction that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. The branches and fruits of this root are all-encompassing and thrilling. They include the stunning implication that all true virtue, and all true worship, necessarily includes the pursuit of happiness in God. The reason for this is that all true virtue and all true worship must involve the intention to glorify God. This is because we were created to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7), and because Paul said, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). So it is sin to pursue any good deed, or any act of worship, without the intent to glorify God. But

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Ten Reasons to Read the Bible Every Day

John Piper: I have never met a mature, fruitful, strong, spiritually discerning Christian who is not full of Scripture, devoted to regular meditation on Scripture, and given to storing it in the heart through Bible memorization — and that’s not a coincidence. So, what I want to do is persuade our new believing friend that it is absolutely essential, after coming to faith in Christ, to be radically, deeply, experientially devoted — unshakably, unwaveringly persuaded — that reading and meditating on and understanding and memorizing and enjoying the Scriptures is absolutely essential for the Christian life, which would include being in the word every day with the aim that we will meet God there and, little by little, the glory of his truth will fill and transform our lives. And that may seem obvious to them or to others, but it isn’t obvious, because I know fairly well-along Christians who don’t do this. They don’t do this, and they’ve been Christians

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John Piper’s prayer during the Coronavirus pandemic

Father, At our best moments, by your grace, we are not sleeping in Gethsemane. We are awake and listening to your Son’s prayer. He knows, deep down, that he must suffer. But in his perfect humanity, he cries out, “If it is possible, let this cup pass.” In the same way, we sense, deep down, that this pandemic is appointed, in your wisdom, for good and necessary purposes. We too must suffer. Your Son was innocent. We are not. Yet with him in our less-than-perfect humanity, we too cry out, “If it is possible, let this cup pass.” Do quickly, O Lord, the painful, just, and merciful work you have resolved to do. Do not linger in judgment. Do not delay your compassion. Remember the poor, O Lord, according to your mercy. Do not forget the cry of the afflicted. Grant                                       

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What No Virus Can Take

John Piper: Romans 8 — “the great eight” — is a text I think everybody in this isolation period should be memorizing. I’m making that as a suggestion: it’s the best thing you could do with your time. Romans 8 gives greater foundations for this fearlessness than anything in the world — than anything the world has to offer. I’ll mention four: 1. For the called who love God in Jesus Christ, all of God’s righteous condemnation toward you was put on Jesus, and there is now no condemnation — no punishment — for those who are in Christ: “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). Condemnation for those who are in Christ is over. It happened at Calvary. That is wonderful. 2. God’s willingness to sacrifice his only Son for the called ones who love him means he not only died in their place, but will

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“I Am Who I Am”

John Piper: Why did God identify himself as “I Am Who I Am” — I absolutely am (Exodus 3:14)? Now, if we can take off our clouded spectacles of mere religious jargon, like G-O-D, this should come and will come as a bolt of lightning. God is. That’s staggering. What sentence could be more important in any language than God is? So, what did he mean when he said, “I absolutely am — I Am Who I Am”? What did he mean? No More Tinkering with Religion And I’m going to linger here longer than you think I should, perhaps, because until God becomes dominant in our thinking and in our feeling — until God becomes the blazing sun at the center of the solar system of our daily lives; until God becomes the Mount Everest in the foothills of all our concerns with this world; until God rests on the souls of the saints in Belfast, and on the churches of Northern Ireland;

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Greatest Good of the Gospel

John Piper: What was the most loving thing Jesus could do for us? What was the endpoint, the highest good, of the gospel? Redemption? Forgiveness? Justification? Reconciliation? Sanctification? Adoption? Are not all of these great wonders simply means to something greater? Something final? Something that Jesus asked his Father to give us? “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me” (John 17:24). The Christian gospel is “the gospel of the glory of Christ” because its final aim is that we would see and savor and show the glory of Christ. For this is none other than the glory of God. “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Hebrews 1:3). “He is the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15). When the light of the gospel shines in our hearts, it is “the light of

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‘The Expulsive Power of a New Affection’

John Piper: The Life-Changing Insight of Thomas Chalmers Christian Hedonism asserts that the most effective way to kill our own sin is by the power of a superior pleasure. No one sins out of duty. We sin because it is more pleasant or less painful than the way of righteousness. So bondage to sin is broken by a stronger attraction — a more compelling joy. Two hundred years ago, Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847) wrote one of the most famous defenses of this truth. It was called “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” We believe you would profit from knowing the man and this remarkable message. He Created an Era Converted to Christ while already in the pastorate (1810) in Kilmany, Scotland, Chalmers eventually became professor of moral philosophy in the University of St. Andrews, and then professor of theology in the University of Edinburgh. His influence in church and politics in Scotland was so extensive that according to geologist Hugh

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What Is God’s Glory?

John Piper: Defining the Impossible Defining the glory of God is impossible, I say, because it is more like the word beauty than the word basketball. If somebody says that they have never heard of a basketball — they don’t know what a basketball is — and so they say, “Define a basketball,” then that would not be hard for you to do. You would use your hands, and you would say, Well, it is like a round thing made out of leather or rubber and about ten or nine inches in diameter, and you blow it up. You inflate it, so it is pretty hard. Then you can bounce it like this, and you can throw it to people, and you can run while you are bouncing it. Then there is this hoop at the end (but it used to be a basket), and you try to throw the ball through the hoop. That is why it is called a basketball. They

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The Answer to God’s Seeming Megalomania

Sam Storms: I recently returned to reading John Piper’s book, Reading the Bible Supernaturally, and was stunned yet again by a truth that has utterly transformed my life. That’s not an overstatement. I can’t think of another theological principle that has meant more to me than what you are about to read. I have often in my books tried to say the same thing, but it always seems to fall short of how John has expressed it. John begins by citing C. S. Lewis and his description of how he struggled with the incessant demand by God that all creation praise him. Lewis confessed that God sounded like “a vain woman who wants compliments.” Then came the discovery that changed Lewis’s life too: “But the most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything—strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or the giving of honor. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise.

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The Value of Being Blunt

John Piper: Looking at Harshness and Cheerfulness Most of us know people who are blunt. Sometimes their bluntness morphs into harshness and unkindness. If that happens often enough, we may sense that they have a kind of personality disorder, because they seem unable to express emotions other than frustration and anger. They give little positive affirmation and little praise—of anything. There is little spontaneous expression of the sort of joy that is self-forgetful and simply swept up into some wonderful experience. On the other hand, most of us know people who are always chipper, always smiling, always commending, always gentle and kind. We marvel at this. It seems wonderful and biblical. But then, over time, we may sense that something is amiss. These people never seem to notice the wrongs others do. They seem to never take note of evils and injustices in society. They are silent when others are wrestling with a difficult moral issue. They don’t give their

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The Key to Not Grumbling in Suffering

John Piper: A Rare Trait I am drawn to people who suffer without murmuring. Especially when they believe in God but never get angry with him or criticize him. It seems to me that not murmuring is one of the rarest traits in the world. And when it is combined with a deep faith in God—who could alter our painful circumstances, but doesn’t—it has a beautiful God-trusting, God-honoring quality that makes it all the more attractive. Paul was like that. Brought to the Brink of Death Paul tells of the time when his faith was put to the test in a way that brought him to the brink of despair and death: We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a

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God’s Passion for God at Christmas

For this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name. —John 12:27–28 John Piper: Glory to God in the Highest One of the most famous Christmas scenes in the Bible is the announcement to the shepherds by an angel that the Savior is born. And then it says, “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Luke 2:11–14). Glory to God, peace to man. The angels are sent to make something crystal clear: the Son of God has come into his creation to display the glory of God and to reconcile people from alienation to peace with God. To make God look great in salvation and to make man glad in God. So when we come to John 12, there is no surprise when we hear Jesus praying that this would actually happen at

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